Friday, September 22, 2006

Going, Going, GongStar!

Boy meets girl
girl loses boy
girl meets boy
girl loses boy
girl loses boy
girl loses self

What can you say about a 0.4-year old movie that flopped? (Apart from rendering its thoughtful story and sensitive message into a form suitable for machine translation into Lojban, that is.) It seems to have gotten rave reviews elsewhere, so we feel it is our bounden duty to correct certain impressions that may be formed upon the tender and uninformed minds that tend to watch escapees from the Bhott stables.

Let's see, where do we start? The very beginning of the movie throws it into flashback mode, which is a curiosity - most cliched fiction tends to hold to the belief that your life flashes before your eyes when you drown, and not after a terminally bleeding shortsighted cop with meghalomaniac tendencies shoots you in the shoulder using a weapon that can be almost guaranteed to hit anything but the target at that distance.

Oops, did I "spoil" the story for you? Appy-polly-logies.

To continue, consider this guy - India's answer to Rowan Atkinson, who can out-act everyone else in the movie in spite of (or perhaps because of) having fewer words to say in the whole movie than are in this self-referential sentence. Also starring in this movie are the cereal kisser as the sharpshooting bar-singing empathetic dedicated diamond-and-coal (or similar unmixed metaphor, I forget) cop from "Indian Intelligence" who is out to make the arrest of his lifetime, with such success that, well, goes quite literally to his head. King Kongna, who manages to successfully distract the viewer from the fact that she can't quite act and speak at the same time, is the third angle (or side) to this convolutedly straight plot, and is perhaps the only reason to consider watching this movie at all.

Hm. That many long sentences later (which I hope your eye jumped over, as it should over this,) we move on to what this movie teaches us: For perhaps the first time in Bollywood movies, here is a movie with the music done almost right. (The other thing it did teach is that movies should be watched comfortably, but that is a whole different story.)

Oh, and I almost forgot: it's based on two real people (the cop being, most unfortunately, the creation of a fertile and scintillating mind?) who would be most thrilled to see their fate, since as far as I know, they're still alive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Omkara is an excellent movie. Period.

After Maqbool (an excellent adaptation of Macbeth), Vishal Bharadwaj has come up with another adaptation of Shakespeare, this time around it is Othello.

And you fall in love with the movie right from the first lines of Langda Tyagi portrayed excellently by an ever improving Saif Ali Khan. The screenplay is exceptional, the music is great and the songs dont seem to have been inserted just to fill time, rather they flow with the movie.

For once Kareena Kapoors role didnt have me reaching for a brown bag to puke in. Casting her in the role of Dolly Mishra our own desi Desdemona, she looks every bit the extremely beautiful woman that she is supposed to play. Look out for her trying to sing Stevie Wonders "I just called to say I love you".

Ajay Devgan plays the role of a brooding Om Shukla (a.k.a Omi Bhaiya), Othello in the original. I thnk far too many people give a lot of credit to him for playing such roles. I think its as easy for him to do these serious no-fun roles as it is for Shah Rukh Khan to play Rahul the lover boy. But again excellent casting.

Konkona Sen Sharma plays Indu or Emilia in the original and comes up with yet another brilliant performance. Two of her scenes stand out in the whole movie, the first one when she teases Ajay Devgan after he gets Kareena to elope with him and the other one at the end where she looks like the devil incarnate.

The directorial touch here introduces Bipasha Basu as a dancer of the more "exotic" variety, and I guess she never looked hotter in any of her other movies. And the lyrics by Gulzar for both her songs are exemplary.

Vivek Oberoi flatters to decieve when he plays the role of Keshav 'Kesu Firangi' Upadhyay, Cassio in the original play. He does do a decent job, but then when compared with the rest of the cast he does come up short.

And finally we come to "Langda Tygai" played by Saif Ali Khan, Iago in the play. This has to be the performance of the movie, and probably the best ever by Saif. The look on his face when Kesu is made bahubali is priceless. There are so many more scenes that stand out in your memory : The bridge scene with Raju, the drunken binge just before the item number, the scene with Omi just as they are about to kill someone, where he amplifies the seeds of suspicion that are there in Omis mind about Dollys fidelity. I wrote the review late just to see how much I remember of Saifs performance and it seems to me that most of it is still there at the back of my mind.

Special mention must be made of Naseeruddin Shahs performance as bhaisaab, the scene where he tells the guard to reverse the train is abosultely hilarious.

Coming to the screenplay and dialogues, both are magnificent. Theres a song called "Jag Ja" and its shots are film making of the highest order. Dialogues, they are too good and are in the local dialect. So if you have problems with strong language or cannot understand Hindi spoken very rapidly then you are better off skipping it or watching it on DVD with sub-titles though I wonder whether it will have the same effect as watching it in a theatre and understanding the language.

All in all a great relief to watch Omkara, after watching Junk Movie #1, Junk Movie #2, Junk Movie #3, Junk Movie #4.